China

Typhoon Haiyan: China sends relief team to Philippines

File photo: Chinese Naval hospital ship the Peace Ark
Image caption The Peace Ark hospital ship reportedly has around 100 medical workers

China is sending an emergency medical team and a disaster relief team to the typhoon-hit Philippines, following criticism of its initial response.

Chinese Red Cross workers, a medical team and a large hospital ship will be sent to assist the Philippines, China's Foreign Ministry said.

Typhoon Haiyan killed more than 4,000 people when it tore into the Philippines on 8 November.

The UN estimates around 11 million people have been affected by the storm.

China initially offered $100,000 (£60,000) in aid, a fraction of that committed by other major nations. The Chinese Red Cross pledged another $100,000.

The amount was criticised by western media and analysts, although some Chinese microblog users objected to China sending any aid at all.

China and the Philippines are currently embroiled in a territorial dispute - seen by many as the reason for Beijing offering so little assistance, says the BBC's China correspondent Martin Patience.

China later pledged another $1.6m (£1m) in relief goods, although it was still a lower contribution than that of several other countries including Australia, South Korea, and the UK.

On Wednesday, China confirmed that rescue workers would also be sent to the Philippines.

"China has always been concerned about the Philippines typhoon disaster," Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said.

"In the spirit of helping the dying and healing the injured, we plan to send rescue workers to the disaster area."

Naval medical ship the Peace Ark will make its way to the Philippines "as soon as possible", Hong Lei added. The Peace Ark has 300 beds and eight operating theatres.

The announcement will be seen as an attempt by Beijing to repair the damage to the country's battered reputation, our correspondent says.